To be successful on the intranet, social media (intranet 2.0) cannot work in isolation; successful social computing requires effective integration and change management.
In the early days of social computing on the IBM intranet Big Blue built their own standalone applications вЂ“ Dogear, Fringe, Beehive, and many others. While some like Beehive, a social networking application, were very successful (see Beehive builds buzz at IBM), Beehive was isolated in a corner of the intranet (like many of its other social media tools), and not at all integrated into the complete employee intranet experience.
Today, the employee networking / intranet 2.0 experience is interconnected, and integrated into the main intranet вЂ“ a single platform, based on Lotus Connections, for all IBMers. The single integrated platform includes micro-blogging, wikis, blogs, activities (informal workflow to customize and use informal projects, to do lists, activities, etc.).
вЂњEverything is connected; see who has done what and view their profile for more information,вЂќ says Yael Ravine, Manager, Collaboration & Social computing, Office of the CIO, IBM.В Some legacy applications such as Blog Central and Wiki Central are still in the process of being completely migrated, but the (r)evolution is underway.
The single platform, also called Connections, is still in its early days, but enjoys about 100,000 unique users every month in Connections. вЂњThis represents about 33% of our target population, since we deployed it, about 15 months ago,вЂќ adds Ravine. вЂњThis is great progress, but we still have ways to go. This number will increase when we complete the migration of stand alone tools and as we do more change management and adoption.вЂќ
Ravine says Connections is particularly effective in coordinating teams and individuals dispersed over a wide geography (IBM has employees in most countries, in all corners of the globe).
вЂњHow do you pull off a three-day sales kickoff event for over 600 salespeople in only two weeks? A lot of hard work, creativity, and Lotus Connections Communities! With only three days to go before the event started, and knowing that we needed a way to share the conference materials, we created a Community, provided training to the event team, and populated the Community with the necessary content. The benefit was that the Community allowed users to interact with the content.вЂќ
The Community turned out to be a fantastic success вЂ“ not just in filling the need for the kickoff event, but also in terms of the exposure to Connections that it provided. Several people came forward after the event indicating that theyвЂ™d like to use Connections for their own purposes.вЂќ
Access to Connections is via a portlet, Connect & Share, on the IBM intranet home page, W3. But Ravine says integration of Connections runs deeper than a simple portlet: вЂњThe most ambitious thing we are doing is our internal phone directory, Blue Pages, with around 600,000 entries (400,000 employees plus contractors, etc.). WeвЂ™re in the process of migrating all of that into the profile components of Connections.вЂќ
As is the case with the intranet itself, and all social media, success depends on effective change management and demonstrating value for employees.
вЂњAt the end of the day, itвЂ™s not about the product, itвЂ™s about adoption, social computing guidelines, and how people use it for work,вЂќ adds Ravine. вЂњSome may say, вЂњI donвЂ™t have time to go and micro-blog…вЂќ If people say that then we havenвЂ™t done our job. We should be doing more micro-blogging instead of sending email; using these tools to make their work more productive.вЂќ
IBM is presently undergoing a massive intranet redesign, and will present a case study on the redesign and how IBMers are using social media in a key presentation at The Intranet Global Forum conference November 9 and 10th in New York City (registration details).